I describe a few things I think gun store employees should be aware of.
Glock has introduced a new ejector for some of their handguns, including the Gen 4 9mm pistols. The modified ejector is supposed to fix some of the reliability problems that have plagued the Glock Gen 4 from its introduction – problems which Glock devotees have steadfastly refused to admit the existence of.
Interestingly enough, Mike Pannone (who, coincidentally, wrote a handbook about Glocks), worked on Gen 3 .40 caliber Glock issues way back in 2007. Either with the use of a 9mm trigger pack or tweaking the ejector about 1mm towards the center axis of the bore, ejection issues went away.
“The cases never hit or barely contact the ejector. The ejection problem is due to the case not making contact with the ejector especially if it is the last round or there is no magazine in the well. The round in the magazine keeps the case from dropping down and failing to make contact with the ejector. I have several Glocks that with the magazine removed the expended case will not eject and will fall out through the magazine well. With certain magazines, ejection is weak as noted in your video.
The problem with a 9mm trigger housing in a 40 is that on some guns it will eject straight back into your forehead. I messed around with bending the ejector just slightly and it actually worked the best on a stock 22. The forehead thing is not every time but once every so often…but it can sting and without glasses…well, you get it.”
Recently, I have noticed somewhat of a backlash against what was once perceived as a “cool” product or service; there has always been an undercurrent of resentment against the more expensive gear in any market segment, but this movement seems more mainstream. Aided by this “quickmeme” thing, anyone can create condescending images like this one:
I’ve seen others that poke fun at those who’ve, for example, taken carbine courses, and so on. Some of the folks passing these along seem pretty involved in that, for lack of a better term, “world.” I’m not saying that we shouldn’t poke fun at ourselves, because I often mock the robotic manner in which I come across in videos.
However, they provided some food for thought, and I think I’ll discuss the marketing of a few companies in the industry. Maybe I’ll gain a few enemies here, but oh well. By the way, several of the companies listed have sent me thousands of dollars worth of equipment for T&E (BCM and Spikes).
Bravo Company makes great ARs. Their marketing appears to be directed at the law enforcement, military, and private military contractor market, with things like a well-produced video of military-looking guys protecting a Pashtun-looking family on an Afghan-looking mountainside. They also have the “BCMGUNFIGHTER” line of apparel (and stickers).
As I said, they’re marketing their wares towards that particular segment, but I would not be surprised to learn that most BCM products are bought by regular civilians (I have no data on this, nor do I see a problem with it). Are they buying BCM stuff because it’s awesome, or because of the marketing push to connect BCM with professional gunfighters?
If there’s anything that would be ripe for a Willy Wonka-style mocking meme, a guy who’s never been in a gunfight putting a “BCMGUNFIGHTER” sticker on his car is it. Regardless of the reason behind most purchases – I would venture a guess that it’s some combination of the two above factors – the success of the company speaks for itself.
Spike’s Tactical also makes great ARs. It’s not as easy to pinpoint who they’re marketing to. For sure, they target the LE market. They seem to be more civilian-focused than Bravo, which makes sense in a way, since there are more gun-owning civilians in the US than there are law enforcement officers or military personnel or PMCs.
I have to say that a lot of Spike’s marketing turns me off. I’m not in the tribal/tapout crowd, and it seems like that’s what they’re going for. The brashness of it is not appealing to me. The spider logo doesn’t really bother me that much, but some of the more “thuggish” apparel isn’t my thing. It seems too poseur. As a pretty tough friend of mine once said, “everyone wants to say they’re training for UFC, but nobody wants to get punched in the face.”
Spike’s seems to be doing very well, which is good, because they make a great product. I suppose someone had to reach out to this market segment, I just kinda wish it wasn’t a company I like so much.
(edit: I once made a print advertisement for Spike’s, but it was positioned a little differently. Of course, I only did the one advertisement, so I guess it wasn’t very effective.)
AAC does clever stuff like give out earplugs “for when your friends don’t have silencers” and put up billboards proclaiming that “silencers are legal” (at least, they pretend to do so in some online ads I’ve seen – I don’t know if they actually did that).
I like a clever ad campaign or trick and will take a look at the company’s products if I see one. The products still have to actually be able to perform, but something funny will at least draw me in.
I have in the past made the statement that Glock’s “Perfection” tagline is one of the biggest jokes in the industry. There is nothing perfect about a Glock, whether it’s because they’re ugly, or some of their models might get you killed if you tried to use them out of the box to defend yourself, or because they’re shaped to fit only 3% of the population – I fall in to that 3%, by the way.
But “Perfection” sells a lot better than “Utilitarian” or “Some Of Our Guns Suck, Others Are Awesome.”
I carry a Glock 19.
Remington/ATI/Any Turkish Firearm Company
Here’s where I complain about “booth babes.” I appreciate the female form, but I would rather hear about the merits of a product or company, or at least see a clever and successful marketing campaign, than simply be expected to approach a company’s booth at a trade show because they hired a few models in skimpy clothing (It seemed that Remington had half a dozen at the 2012 NRA show).
What makes this worse is that if the models are actually holding firearms, it’s perfectly obvious that they have no idea what they’re doing. Why should I spend time looking at your product if you’re marketing it in an amateurish manner? “Look, boobs?”
I recently saw a photo shoot with a female model for some 1911 grips. The actual grips were in an underexposed portion of the photo, so it was hard to tell if they were effective, decent looking, etc. I couldn’t really see anything that would sell me on the grips, other than the fact that a woman was holding the pistol. I’m sure that’ll sell a lot of grips – or at least posters. Sex sells, just not to me.
At the risk of sounding toolish – If I’m buying a firearm or piece of gear, it’s going to be used. I may depend on it in the field. I’ll be thousands of miles away from that “hot” model, literally and figuratively, and the vacant expression on her face as she stared at the camera or signed posters at a trade show isn’t going to help me come home.
At the NRA show, I found it unfortunate and distressing that there was a line to get autographs from the peroxide blonde at the ATI booth, but people were walking past Julie Goloski-Golob without paying any attention to her – and, astounding shooting prowess aside, she is a very attractive woman in her own right. She was also very pleasant to talk to.
But I always keep in mind what a businessman I know said – he was actually referencing a completely different topic at the time – “We’re not marketing to the Andrew Tuohys of the gun world.” This brings me to my next point…
I have told friends in the past that I appreciate a product that is sold on its merits, and I really can’t think of a better example of this than Elzetta flashlights, which are marketed with advertisements that discuss the technical details of their lights. While this is exactly the sort of thing that appeals to me and I find refreshing, it does not generally seem to have a huge splash in the marketplace. I’m sure that one photo of a blonde shining an Elzetta light off-camera while wearing a tank top and parting her lips would gain a lot of attention, but that’s not how those guys roll, and that’s exactly why I like them so much.
Unfortunately, the end result of this is lost profits.
Tru-Spec/Extreme Shock/Counter Sniper/Hell Fighter
It may be a little unfair to lump Tru-Spec in here, but this group is composed of companies whose advertising promises way more than the product delivers, and that’s a fair description of a Tru-Spec booth I saw at the NRA show. It featured a quote from “Gunny” – R. Lee Ermey, which read, “Only the very best products earn my stamp of approval. Tru-Spec makes service attire that’s simply outstanding.”
I don’t know what his definition of “simply outstanding” is, but every professional organization or unit I’ve encountered that uses Tru-Spec apparel has cursed the bean counters that cursed them with such poorly made “service attire.” Rips and tears seemed to be the norm, not the exception, and some garments became unserviceable at an unacceptable pace. Not exactly what I’d call “simply outstanding.”
The others use flashy photos with explosions and tactical dudes in black tactical gear with tactical accessory-laden tactical firearms doing tactical things, like pointing guns off camera. They also use taglines like “the choice of elite military and law enforcement agencies around the globe.”
This goes with the above Tru-Spec point – a lot of crappy gear is foisted upon good agencies or units, only to end up collecting dust in a quadcon or storage locker. An ironic factor is the inclusion of the American flag to sell products not made in America or used by any professional organization in the United States. “Around the world” generally means “a few third world police departments at various points on the planet.”
I recently picked up a few Arc’teryx LEAF jackets (an Alpha and a Bravo, thanks to my friend Jim at Deliberate Dynamics). The image of Arc’teryx in the firearm industry is linked considerably, and perhaps unfortunately, to Chris Costa. As a result, Arc’teryx apparel seems to be perceived as more of a popular item or status symbol than something that’s actually useful.
That’s unfortunate, because both jackets (one made in China, one made in Canada) are outstanding at what they do, which is protect my body from the elements. I have some cheap Chinese-made jackets and some older American-made stuff; the quality, design and craftsmanship of the Arc’teryx apparel compares favorably to old American-made apparel. The cheap Chinese jackets work, but they aren’t as well made and are perhaps not as good in terms of keeping me warm. Some people will buy one type, and others will buy another.
I don’t know if Arc’teryx should be blamed for how they are perceived. Then again, they price their stuff really high, so they should expect some pushback or resentment. To be honest, I don’t know if I would buy a $700 jacket. I think the Berry-compliant models are mostly intended for agency purchases – still, the $370 Bravo jacket isn’t the sort of purchase I would make lightly.
Outside the tactical and/or gear world, most people just see them as jackets.
I Guess That’s It For Now
I have come to the end of my thoughts on “tactical” and firearm marketing, at least for now. What are your thoughts?
GearScout has more info on the strange, strange news of the Army’s order from Remington of 24,000 M4A1s, as part of an IDIQ (indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity) contract of up to 120,000 carbines.
While in St. Louis, Missouri for the NRA show, I decided to avoid the lavish parties – mostly because I wasn’t invited to them – and take a stroll across the river in order to photograph East St. Louis, Illinois.
My cab driver (a very proudly naturalized US Citizen formerly of Nigeria who was studying for the ASVAB in order to join the Army) who brought me to my hotel on the first night described it as “Deathtown.” He also said “everyone that lives there is an animal.” For those that are not familiar with the town’s reputation, its murder rate is twenty times the national average, and twice that of Gary, Indiana, which has the next highest rate.
I took photographs on two separate nights. The first night, Friday the 13th, a thunderstorm moved through, and I was essentially the only person on the street. The next night was clear and there were more people out – but not a whole lot.
I’ve uploaded the photographs to my newly created Flickr account. Here’s a sample. Yes, they’re all black and white (so far – I may upload some of the color ones with lightning from the first night).
Oh, here’s a question. Would you have walked through this tunnel? And do you think I did? Answer below.
It was just a homeless guy picking up cigarette butts. I said hi as I walked by him.
Here’s a guest post I wrote on the topic of preparing for medical emergencies. Special thanks to my fellow Corpsmen, especially Derek, who assisted with comments and ideas as I wrote the post.
This email was sent to the contact address on the Colorado Gun Sales website on 3/21/12; no response has been received.
To whom it may concern,
I recently purchased one of your M10 rifles in 5.45 from AIM Surplus. It arrived on Monday evening and I am now, as of Wednesday afternoon, shipping it back to AIM for a refund. I wish to inform you of some issues I saw with the rifle so that you may improve future production runs. I do not expect any action on your part.
– The very first thing I noticed, out of the box, was that the screw attaching the folding stock to the receiver was too long, preventing the stock from folding.
– The next thing I noticed was that the upper and lower handguard had been forced into place with what could only have been a tool such as a hammer (or perhaps superhuman strength). The handguard retaining cap had been bent/damaged at the rear as a result of this. Also, the screws attaching the upper handguard to the lower handguard were crossthreaded at a relatively extreme angle.
– The trunnion appeared to have had some material machined/ground away – for some unknown reason – at the rear on the right side.
– The magazine well had apparently been opened up to a degree that did not allow the use of some surplus Bulgarian magazines. Of the magazines that did fit, the pressure of the magwell on the sides of the magazines caused slow feeding, which resulted in bolt over base malfunctions with Russian surplus 5.45 ammunition.
– Projectile impacts past 10 yards resulted in oblong holes on paper.
After seeing a few photos of fake Marines recently, an 0351 friend and I bounced ideas off of each other for the details behind the awards some of these wonderful people choose to wear. You see, some of the ribbons they put on are for campaigns that took place before they were born, such as World War II. I guess when you’re trying to build a stack the size of one of your manboobs, you need some filler, and that ancient campaign ribbon looks great next to your Army EOD badge and SEAL trident (no, seriously, go look at it).
Not to mention that the one guy is wearing his fourragÃ¨re completely wrong, or that his gig line is comically bad, and the other guy has three Purple Hearts side by side, and on and on… I wonder if his Purple Heart “citations” read like this guy’s?
Anyway, here are some of the awards and citations we came up with. I would suggest that posers use some of these, for it would really make the whole thing a lot more fun.
– Dual Congressional Medals of Honor from the Spanish-American War
– A citation for valor while serving in a SOAD unit during the American Revolution
– Letter of commendation from George Washington for the French and Indian Wars
– Silver Star for providing important aerial surveillance photographs from a U2 during the 3rd Crusade
– Legion of Merit for providing logistical assistance to the Huns as they marched on Rome
– Legion of Merit for leading the first “Out of Africa” migration
– Page 11 for eating the apple in the Garden of Eden
– Navy Cross for being the first sea creature to walk on land
Any other ideas?
Edit: Some good satire here.
In this video, I relate some of the lessons I’ve learned about performance under stress, and how to improve my chances of survival in a dangerous situation. In order to provide a background for the opinions I have formed, I describe a few of the stressful situations I have encountered. I do not include them in order to boast or brag – they are the cornerstones of my experience regarding performance under stress. As you will see, I have learned as much – or more – from failure as I have from success.